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Invasive Plant Species

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 24 February 2021

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ceisteanna (289)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

289. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the actions his Department is taking, pursuant to the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations, to ensure the eradication, containment and management of Japanese knotweed on all lands owned by his Department and all lands owned by local authorities; if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9471/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species.

In law, control of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed is a matter for landowners. While my Department carries out considerable work on controls in National Parks and Nature Reserves, it does not have the resources or the powers required to extend such work into urban areas or the wider countryside. Likewise, the NPWS is not resourced to provide grant funding to homeowners for the removal or eradication of Japanese Knotweed.

I am aware of the work carried out across the country by many local authorities to tackle invasive alien species and I am currently finalising the details of a new stream of funding for local authorities to target invasive alien species in their areas. I hope to be in a position to announce this scheme in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, there is considerable work being carried out at present by a range of agencies in this area, including a number of local authorities. While there is no national eradication plan at this time, my Department will consider options for improved national co-ordination of work on invasive species, including increased cooperation between local and central government.

NPWS has a regional network of conservation officers and wildlife rangers who may, in certain cases, be in a position to provide practical advice on invasive species. For details of the NPWS staff in a particular area, please see the relevant section of the website, www.npws.ie/contact-us.

Information on the distribution of invasive species in Ireland, including Japanese Knotweed, is available on the invasive species section of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) website. Incidences of invasive species can be reported via the NBDC website and I encourage members of the public to use this facility.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Japanese knotweed are available from:

www.biodiversityireland.ie/japanese-knotweed-faq/.

With regard to the case referred to in the Question, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this until such time as my Department has had an opportunity to discuss with the relevant parties and determine in more detail the measures that have been proposed to manage the species in the area referred to, and the reasoning behind the proposal of these measures.

Please note also that a licence is required to remove and dispose of Japanese Knotweed under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 and contractors employed to carry out this work should be aware of this requirement. If you have any queries in relation to the transport of Japanese Knotweed please contact the Licensing Unit of NPWS at email: wildlifelicence@chg.gov.ie.

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